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Dezer Development floats idea of building a tiny-home resort in Orlando’s I-Drive corridor

Conceptual plans submitted in Orlando show the tiny home resort community on an existing retention pond behind Dezerland Park.
Conceptual plans submitted in Orlando show the tiny home resort community on an existing retention pond behind Dezerland Park. (City of Orlando)

Resort-style, tiny-house living may be landing a spot in Orlando’s I-Drive tourism corridor.

Billionaire developer Gil Dezer, president of Dezer Development, is beginning to draw out plans for a potential tiny home resort community at Dezerland Park, the former stamping grounds for patrons shopping at the repurposed and rebranded Artegon Marketplace.

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So far, established plans for the mixed-use Dezerland community combine a mix of high-end apartments with a yet-to-open 500-car museum and recently opened indoor entertainment venue, offering go-karting experiences as well as bowling lanes, themed lounging areas and arcade games.

According to records obtained by GrowthSpotter, Orlando city planners met with a development team last month to discuss building up to 125 tiny homes on existing retention ponds behind Dezerland Park Orlando.

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If approved, the vast parking lots at Artegon could be redeveloped with over a thousand apartments, a new hotel and more shops.

At the meeting, a development team consisting of Todd Drennan with Forefront Architecture + Engineering and Loretta Permaul with general contracting firm Ramcon Corp. went over the needed applications for the potential tiny home resort.

In order to go through with the process, the developer would have to obtain a Growth Management Plan amendment — a typically lengthy process. The amendment would change the property’s land use and zoning. Dezer Development would also need to submit a formal Master Plan before beginning the permitting process and seeking approvals from Orlando’s Municipal Planning Board.

A submitted conceptual plan shows 125 tiny homes surrounding existing retention ponds, in addition to homes raised on stilts over the bodies of water. Conceptual amenities include a fishing dock, restaurant, playground, clubhouse, camp fire site and outdoor movie theater.

The project sits directly north of Lennar Homes planned vacation home community that will surround a massive amenity center with its own restaurant and water park, once complete. The approved “Storey Drive” plan calls for 62 detached homes of up to 5,000 square feet, 200 vacation townhomes and 240 resort condos.

The planned tiny home community will rise behind Dezerland Park Orlando, and north of Lennar's 77-acre vacation home community.
The planned tiny home community will rise behind Dezerland Park Orlando, and north of Lennar's 77-acre vacation home community. (City of Orlando, Orange County Property Appraiser)

For the past several years, tiny homes have grown in popularity. The trend was seen in reality TV shows like “Tiny House Nation,” and “Tiny House, Big Living,” which showcased their cost-efficiency and quick turnaround construction timelines, as well as a lifestyle geared toward flexibility, reducing a carbon footprint and shrinking living costs.

And in the post-COVID-19 era, a rental lodge community that offers opportunities to distance from large crowds may be in higher demand, developer David Pace, president of Dart Interests Florida, previously told GrowthSpotter.

The real estate investment and development firm is introducing a new approach to the traditional vacation home rental experience and debuting a new Conrad hotel in Central Florida.

Dart Interests recently announced plans for a luxury 10,000-room resort community called Evermore Orlando Resort near several of Orlando’s theme park destinations. He adds there’s a new desire, from a safety standpoint, to be in control of your environment.

“We believe one of the outcomes of COVID will be a higher potency to travel within state bubbles,” Pace said. “People will feel more comfortable possibly not having housekeepers come into their room every day.”

Attempts to reach the development team and representatives at Dezer Development were unsuccessful.

The Dezer family is known for their affinity for luxury cars and real estate projects. The company’s 60-story Porsche Design Tower condo building in South Florida features its own posh car elevator and waterfront multimillion dollar units.

In Orlando, Dezerland is coming into fruition. America Landmark Apartments is in the midst of building a new $78 million, 365-unit apartment community (its first ground-up development) in the parking lot of the former mall.

The first phase of Dezerland Park, the indoor attraction component, opened late last month. The attraction also began previews and preps for its big auto collection reportedly debuting this year. A trampoline park, pinball-specific section and a James Bond-themed lounge are also upcoming.

As far a future tiny homes, the City of Orlando does not have regulations on the minimum size of residential units. Instead, it follows the Florida Building Code, which does set a minimum standard of 150 square feet per dwelling unit for one person, and allows additional residents at 100-foot increments.

Meanwhile in Orange County, 500 square feet is the set minimum for housing size.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at arabines@GrowthSpotter.com or (407) 420-5427, or tweet me at @amanda_rabines. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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